GOOD START FOR LUNA ROSSA - ITA 48
Leading Americas Cup challenger, Luna Rossa - ITA 48, marked her debut today by beating New York Yacht Club's Young America team.
It nothced Italy's Prada team a further nine points in its leading performance at the head of the challenger points table.
Today was the first day of match racing in Round Robin Three on Auckland's Hauraki Gulf. The Louis Vuitton Cup challenger series began with ideal racing conditions with a breeze of 14-18 knots from the SW.
The Race Committee had to postpone the races on Luna Rossa's course due to a wind shift.
But the race began at 12.20pm New Zealand Time. Luna Rossa crossed the line at the pin end 2 seconds ahead of Young America, who was sailing to windward at the Committee end of the line.
Ed Baird, skipper of Young America, sailed higher drawn along by favourable wind shifts. This forced Francesco de Angelis to tack away, crossing behind Young America by 1 boat length.
Young America kept the lead throughout the first upwind leg, and rounded the first mark 17 seconds ahead of Luna Rossa.
The spinnakers were hoisted on both boats and de Angelis immediately gybed away seeking more favourable wind, sailing into the opposite side of the course.
Luna Rossa could not find the opportunity of gaining the lead and at the end of the first run downwind she was still trailing by 20 seconds.
At this point de Angelis decided to take his chance and tacked away just after the mark to defend the right hand side of the course. Baird decided to sail on to the left letting his rival go.
Luna Rossa's gamble paid off. The wind shifted to the right favouring Luna Rossa, who managed to gain 45 seconds and round the second windward mark with a lead of 25 seconds.
In the remaining legs de Angelis kept his rival at bay and crossed the finish line 23 seconds ahead of Young America.
Torben Grael, tactician on Luna Rossa, said: "The conditions today were very shifty due to the southwesterly winds which have a typical pattern here in Auckland. Ed (Baird) had a good start and both boats seemed to be quite even in speed.
"At the start of the second beat we decided to sail to the right side of the course to try and catch a favourable wind shift; it was a good decision and we managed to take the lead of the race."
Other races also offered a suburb display of Americas Cup match racing.
FAST2000, the Swiss team who was racing against AmericaOne today, suffered a collision with an Umpire boat during the pre-start; the Committee had to re-start the race. The Swiss team showed a great deal of improvement in boat performance by sailing an aggressive and close race against Paul Cayard.
In the other matches of the day Abracadabra 2000, sailing its second boat USA 50, won against the Spanish; Dennis Conner beat Young Australia 2000; Nippon Challenge, who was racing "Idaten" JPN 52 for the first time, won over the French of Le Defi.
Tomorrow Luna Rossa will race against the French.
OF TODAY - RACE 1 of Round Robin 3
1st Match Prada Challenge wins against Young America (23 seconds)
2nd Match AmericaOne wins against FAST200 (33 seconds)
3rd Match Abracadabra 2000 wins against Spanish Challenge (27 seconds)
4th Match Team Dennis Conner wins against Young Australia 2000 (1 minute 14 seconds)
5th Match Nippon Challenge wins against Le Defi (3 minutes 6 seconds)
NOT RACING America True
RESULTS AFTER DAY ONE OF ROUND
ROBIN 3 (9 points per win)
55 pts - ITA 48 (Luna Rossa)
45,5 pts - USA 55 (Stars & Stripes)
45 pts - USA 49 (AmericaOne)
38,5 pts - JPN 52 (Idaten)
38 pts - USA 51 (America True)*
25 pts - USA 50 (Abracadabra 2000)
24 pts - USA 58 (Young America)
17 pts - ESP 47 (Bravo Espana)
14 pts - FRA 46 (6eme Sens)
9 pts - AUS 31 (Young Australia 2000)
8 pts - SUI 59 (be hAPpy)
*America True has sailed one race less.
Windward-leeward format, 18.5 nautical miles; six legs, three upwind and three downwind; the first and the last legs are 3.25 miles long, the others 3.00 miles.
THE WEATHER TODAY
SW, 12-18 knots; the cloud influences the nature of the wind, sunny breaks having a destabilizing effect. Oscillations 10-20 degrees with swings up to 30 degrees.
Light showers in the morning. SW 0.5-1.0 metres.
THE RACING TOMORROW - RACE 2 of Round
1st Match Spanish Challenge vs FAST2000
2nd Match Nippon Challenge vs Young America
3rd Match Prada Challenge vs Le Defi
4th Match America True vs Team Dennis Conner
5th Match AmericaOne vs Abracadabra 2000
NOT RACING Young Australia 2000
THE WEATHER TOMORROW
SW winds, 20 knots. Mostly cloudy.